Denver Arts Complex Sued Over Access Problems
Charging the Denver Performing Arts Complex with a host of access and discrimination issues, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition filed suit in federal court yesterday over seating problems, ticketing problems and an inaccessible website.
News of the deficiencies of the new Ellie Caulkins Opera House broke when the facility opened in October of 2005.
"When the City renovated what is now the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, my daughters and I were thrilled to have a new accessible venue to see ballet," said plaintiff Carrie Lucas who uses a wheelchair and is the mother of two daughters who also use wheelchairs. "What we got instead is wheelchair seats on steep slopes, wheelchair lifts that don't work and staff who don't know what they are doing. During 'Sleeping Beauty,' we had to leave at intermission because of the lifts." Performing Arts Complex venues.
"The City twice refused to allow us to have wheelchair seats for the Itzhak Perlman concert at Boettcher Hall," said Laura Hershey, who uses a wheelchair. "When you have to hire a lawyer to get a ticket to a concert, something is wrong."
CCDC says it's negotiated "for years over access problems to such venues as the Opera House, Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre and Boettcher Concert Hall" but that Denver hasn't resolved the problems.
"CCDC members can no longer hold their breaths and wait for the next time camera equipment is in their wheelchair seating area or for the City to renovate another theater only to make it inaccessible," said Kevin Williams, CCDC's Legal Program Director and lead counsel in the case. "Two years of unfruitful negotiations is enough."
According to the group's press release, other defendants are the Denver Center for Performing Arts, Opera Colorado, Colorado Ballet Company and the Colorado Symphony Association.
The lawsuit also alleges inaccessible box office counter and ticket windows, problems with accessible parking in the Complex garage and a failure by certain defendants to post TTY numbers for the deaf and hearing impaired.
CCDC and the individual plaintiffs are also represented by Fox & Robertson, P.C., who were lead counsel in the recent landmark nationwide class-action settlement against Kmart.
The lawsuit seeks Court-ordered changes to the Performing Arts Complex facilities and policies, unspecified damages for the plaintiffs and attorneys' fees.
Related: Disability Coalition group files suit over arts access (Rocky Mtn. News)